Drug Addiction Treatment
In 2014, 21.5 million adults in the U.S. struggled with a substance abuse disorder, according to The National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Drug addiction is a serious, chronic disease by which someone is compulsively driven to engage in substance abuse, turning to a dangerous substance again and again, in spite of serious risks to the user’s health or well-being. The desire for a “fix” gets so powerful it takes over all other drives. Because of ways that illicit drugs affect the brain, long-term drug use is a habit that can be very difficult to break. Even though the decision to first take a drug may be voluntary, over time, drug abuse will take over the brain, seeking and taking it uncontrollably.
The good news is that a drug addiction treatment can make a huge difference. In a drug rehabilitation center, you can be in a place where you are able to begin to experience life without drugs, and then get to the bottom of some of the reasons you may use. This will enable you to find alternative coping mechanisms for dealing with life’s stresses, know how to respond to cravings so you can remain drug-free.
From there, you can take steps to restore your physical and mental health, and take charge of your own life, so you can begin to live again making a positive contribution to family, friends, and people around you. This is not an easy process, but one that will involve long-term care. Rehabilitation should be seen as only the beginning of this lifelong commitment to sobriety.
Elements of Effective Drug Treatment:
SAMHSA reports that there are more than 14,000 centers dedicated to treating drug addiction, representing a wide variety of different approaches with varying degrees of effectiveness. Many people come out of drug rehabilitation totally transformed and empowered, but many others find the hold of addiction too strong at first, and must return again and again until they hit a “bottom” that drives the need for radical change.
While a relapse doesn’t mean failure, and may only be a part of the bumpy road to realizing the need for change and recovery, you owe it to yourself or your loved one to make sure you pick a rehab center with the most effective evidence-based methods possible.
Decades of research into the nature of addiction and which treatment approaches work have established some consensus of what principles should be the foundation of a good drug rehabilitation program.
- Addiction is a disease and not a moral failing. Simply shaming a person into changing his or her behavior will not work. Instead, you should work to compassionately treat the brain function and behavior so that new thought patterns and habits can develop.
- No single treatment is effective for everyone, and so rehabs should both have a variety of potentially transformational activities available, and take time to know each individual going through treatment well enough to find the combination of treatments that works for him or her.
- It is important to address multiple needs. A person needs to be physically healthy, mentally able to accept and feel in control of their thoughts and emotions, socially connected to friends and loved ones, and feel like their life is filled with fulfilling work and a sense of purpose. Physical exercise and management of infectious diseases, treatment of mental health challenges, and connections with others are all part of what can help a person get started on a lifelong recovery journey.
- Counseling is an important element of all treatment programs. A person’s drug use can not be separated from all aspects of their lives. Many times, addiction is a misguided effort to deal with underlying tensions, trauma, mental health disorders, or frustrations. Treatment should help a person get down to understand these root causes, and then discover new coping mechanisms to deal with these difficulties in new ways.
- Medication can often be an important part, particularly in the beginning, detoxification stage. However, it should be integrated within and supportive of larger behavioral transformation.
- Continuous monitoring can ensure that someone in the vulnerable early stages of recovery doesn’t give into the extremely powerful temptation to attempt to use while in rehab. Vigilantly working to keep rehab a truly drug free space can show someone that sobriety really is possible, making it an important step in recovery.
- Rehab should take as as much time as it needs to, and not rush anyone out. Your stay may be 30, 60, or 90 days, depending on the severity of your addiction. At the same time, recovery is also a lifelong journey, and your time in an inpatient rehab facility should be viewed as only the beginning of a life long decision, made one day at a time, to stay committed to sobriety and self-improvement.
What To Expect from Drug Addiction Rehab:
Drug addiction rehabilitation treatment that is done successfully can be broken down into several steps, each of which has its own priorities and challenges.
The detoxification process is an important first stage of healing the body and breaking the most intense physical dependence that can follow the withdrawal stage. Depending on the intensity or types of drugs taken, there can often be a very difficult phase of side-effects as drugs leave a body. After long-term habitual use, the body has often become so used to your use that it may feel unable to function without it. Your drug abuse has flooded the brain with certain neurotransmitters, or chemicals the body produces naturally to bring on emotional responses.
When substance abuse inflates the neurotransmitters’ levels unnaturally, the body adapts by changing the levels of chemicals it produces. This makes it more difficult to have a normal response to things that bring on feelings of relaxation or excitement. With long-term sobriety, the brain and body can recalibrate and heal itself to a remarkable degree. However, this is going to take time. A medically supervised detox process can go a long way in helping you feel comfortable and safe as you work to restore yourself.
2. Intake and Evaluation:
Prior to beginning treatment, you will meet with staff members to evaluate your situation, learn about you, and work on what might be an effective course of action. This will involve a full physical checkup, since your bodily health is an important aspect of the recovery process. You will also be assessed by a councillor who will ask about the drugs you take, and the changes you feel like need to happen in your life. Addiction is sustained by denial, lying to others and yourself about how deeply drug use controls your life. The counselor will provide a nonjudgmental and experienced ear, focusing on your story to best determine the path forward. The more honest and open you are able to be, the more effective and personalized care you will receive.
3. Behavioral Counseling:
Recovery from addiction must be more than a simple “just say no” to the substances that kept an iron grip on your life. Over time, the drug use has manipulated and altered the way your brain works, and taken over your life. By digging deep and working on changing your thoughts and behaviors, a person with addiction issues can learn how to find good habits and coping mechanism to help overcome their cravings.
That is why meeting one-on-one with a therapist is such an important part of addiction rehab. In cognitive-behavioral therapy, you will learn how to recognize situations that may lead to drug use, and figure out better ways of responding.
4. Support Groups:
One of the most potentially transformational aspects of early recovery is the opportunity to meet in a supportive environment with others struggling with similar issues. A support group enables you to share your experiences, story, and struggles with other people who have their own experiences with addiction, and are going through the same rehabilitation program as you.
The intense experience of addiction recovery can facilitate strong bonds and relationships between people, creating what may feel like some of the strongest friendships you have ever had. In facilitated group meetings, you can speak from your own experience from other people who understand what you are going through on a personal level, and can offer encouragement and advice that can give you the strength to keep going. Support groups also provide an opportunity to help others, giving your recovery a deeper sense of purpose and showing the ways your story can have power to give your life meaning.
5. Physical Wellness:
The impact on the body may vary based on the type of substances abused, but all drug abuse wreaks havoc on the user’s physical health. Drug addiction can also disrupt important daily routines of sleep, nutritious eating, and physical activity. All of this means that frequently people addicted to drugs are in very poor physical shape. Restoring the body is an important part of the full recovery process. Physical activities such as sports, hiking, yoga, or other outdoor activities are not simply fun diversions, but they are an important part of replacing the negative lifestyle of substance abuse with more positive activities. Regular exercise can help you rebuild your strength, as well as be an important natural source of endorphins that can be a healthier sense of “natural highs.”
6. Family Support:
Addiction does not only affect the person abusing drugs him or herself. Every person is part of a network of others, of close friends, family, and loved ones. When a life is overtaken by addiction, and a person neglects themselves, it negatively impacts the whole family system. Under the influence of drugs or a craving, a person may behave in shocking ways, stealing, lying, or hurting people they would never dream of harming normally.
Expressing regret and a desire to change can be an important part of reconnecting with people hurt by your addiction. People who care about the person struggling with addiction may feel deeply helpless and concerned as they watch a person bring great harm to themselves, but not know what to do. Sometimes, a family’s well-intentioned reactions can end up enabling an addiction, bringing more harm than good in the name of “protecting” the drug user. For all these reasons, drug rehab will work for family to be involved in the recovery process.
7. Legal and Vocational Services:
Recovery is an opportunity to totally rebuild and take charge of your life, in all aspects. So an important aspect of rehab is giving you the tools you need to succeed, and create the life for yourself that you really want. They can offer a variety of services in helping you find a job once you get out of rehab, educational opportunities to build up life skills, and help navigating the legal system. These resources can make it easier to find meaningful work and allow you to build a life characterized by self-empowerment. You do not have to live a life defined by your past, and rehabs have resources to help you make that step into the future.
8. Long Term Follow Up:
Rehab is only the first step in a lifelong journey of making the decision to stay sober, finding new ways of facing the challenges of life, surrounding yourself with supportive friends, and finding things to be grateful for in your daily life. A responsible rehab center should make it clear that your stay in a residential drug rehabilitation center is not the end of your work to rebuilding your life of recovery. In fact, going back to your “normal life” with its stresses, opportunities to relapse, and reminders of your old addicted life can place you in situations of great vulnerability if you are not prepared.
For this reason, it is very important to have ways of continuing your care after you leave the addiction treatment center. Rehabs should provide plans for aftercare, through opportunities to come back for educational lectures, therapy, or other ways to talk through your challenges. Regularly attending peer support group meetings, such as 12-step groups, are a widely used way rehab alumni renew their commitment to recovery on a regular basis. Another excellent resources includes sober living, in which people committed to sobriety live together under some supervision, practicing handling the responsibilities of daily life in a safe setting.